It is that time of the year when old rivalries are reopened and the only way to recan the can of worms is to start the game. Yeah, this is one of the biggest rivalries in the world. It is Arsenal vs. Manchester United at Old Trafford. I still consider this game to be bigger than the game with Spurs or Chel$ki as Spurs have been minor irritants over the last couple of decades and Chel$Ki…. Well, you don’t talk much when you have won the premiership (1st division) only thrice in your history and two of those league wins have come due to the pouring of Russian oil on the Bridge. Generally Liverpool is the other club that Arsenal fans might be softer on. Enemy’s enemy is your friend, but it doesn’t apply in all cases.
Anyway, Arsenal – Manchester United. It is between the players, fans and managers alike. Arsene Wenger – Alex Ferguson, Vieira – Keane, Rude Van Nistelrooy, Keown, Lauren, Nevilles…. The list goes on. Yeah, other than the managers none of the others mentioned are to play the central role in this year’s fixture. Some have left the club, some have retired and some are injured. The departure of Vieira and Keane might have been the reason for this fixture losing some of the hot-headedness last season, but it is as passionate as ever. And, only last season one of these matches didn’t play a key role in determining the winner of the league. The only fixture that comes close to the intensity of this fixture is the Liverpool – Manchester United match.
This year Ferguson has been quite soft and also kept his mouth in its place before the fixture. There has been no vitriolic attack on Arsenal and this itself is quite a surprise. He has actually gone on record to say that ‘‘Arsenal are lost in transition“. Generally, the attitude has been to kick the Gunners in the park, get players sent off and literally do anything other than play football to defeat the gunners. Yeah, it is accepted that there is going to be some amount of physicality in football, but the level of physicality shown by United players have surpassed the norms at many times. And generally they have the referee play for them. Referees are bound to make mistakes, but when the mistakes are always against the visiting teams at OT, it is bound to raise suspicion.
I am not going to write about that fateful clash in OT 3 years ago, but I regard that day to be responsible for the 49 game unbeaten run of the Gunners. In that regard it is a huge thanks to (dis)United, but what happened that day, still raises my anger levels a bit.
In this fixture, I wouldn’t want to see glorious football, but football that will make us win. I don’t care if we score two goals or 4, but we should score one more than they do and we needn’t do it in style. Gunners, you needn’t pass the ball into the net, you can hit it from a distance. Rosicky, Hleb, Baptista, Walcott and Gallas, this is your chance to become legends at the Emirates Stadium in such a short span of time. Just go to OT and win the game. It doesn’t matter if you play dirty, just win it.
I feel Wenger should play a 4-3-3 in attack and 4-5-1 in defence. Some surprise element is required if you are to put ManU on the backfoot at OT and I feel that can happen if you play Baptista and Adebayor upfront and a midfield comprising of Hleb-Gilberto-Fabregas-Rosicky (in that order from right to left) and Eboue-Toure-Djourou-Gallas as the back four. I would ask Gallas to play in the position in the wing in which Ronaldo is playing. He would be the major threat from the wings, especially with the fact that Giggs and Park are injured and Solskjaer can’t last a full game. I believe that with Giggs not in the team, Arsenal is in with more than a 50-50 chance of getting a win at OT. Get Walcott and Van Persie (if he is fit) later on in the game to inject pace in the flanks.
So far I have refrained from talking about ‘C’ashley Cole here. I started hating this guy the moment he said that the Arsenal board let him down. Mr. ‘C’ashley, you went and spoke to the Chel$ki folks without getting permission. People leave clubs for different reasons. It is fine to leave the club looking for more money, but pouring vitriolic on the club and its players is just not acceptable. Don’t wash the dirty linen in public. I feel that Cole is scoring own goals with each and every one of these statements. The same applies to Gallas also. You can act in self-defence but don’t start making unwarranted comments.
And what the hell does Cole think by writing a book about your footballing career. He is 25 years old and his career is hardly 6-7 years in the making. If he can write a book on that, then almost anyone can write a book on anything they have done in life. I am pretty sure he will live to regret this mistake. And the same applies to Wayne Rooney. This kid has been into mainstream football for 3 full seasons not and already he has a book on his footballing career’s. When did careers start becoming this short?
I am pretty sure what Cole is doing now is only going to benefit the Arsenal players by motivating them more than anything else. Wait and watch Chel$ki, we are coming for you.
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